- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My entertaining, or should I say getting together with friends, has become more spur-of-the-moment. No matter how cushy the chairs are at Starbucks, they can’t compete with my favorite chairs at home.

So, when I start the coffee and heat up the kettle, it’s time for a tea-coffee party.

When I lived in England, I worried about inviting my neighbors over for a cup of tea. I was unsure if I could pull it off in the correct British manner. So I baked an American style coffeecake, which I hoped would detract from my nervousness.

When my guests forked into the cinnamon cake, they were smiling and perfectly silent, but someone finally uttered, “I don’t taste any coffee.”

It was true; my coffeecake was just for nibbling with coffee. There isn’t any coffee in this flaky coffeecake, either, just apricots and almonds. The base is a layer of crescent roll dough, the apricots come from a can of pastry filling and the glaze is nothing more than confectioners’ sugar and milk dribbled on at the end.

If you are in a hurry, go ahead and glaze the coffeecake before it cools completely. The glaze will run a bit and not keep its shape, but the coffeecake will be just as delicious.

Five time-shaving things to eat when friends come for coffee or tea

• Make tea sandwiches with whatever sandwich bread you have, minus the crust, spread thinly with mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper and layer with thinly sliced veggies from your fridge.

• Warm up store-bought croissants. Serve with store-bought orange marmalade spooned into a small, pretty bowl.

• Make chocolate panini sandwiches in a panini maker or waffle iron. Use very thin white bread, chocolate chips and soft butter. Slice into squares.

• Make open face s’mores by placing a graham cracker on the pan of your toaster oven, topping with a small piece of milk chocolate, then topping with mini marshmallows. Broil until the marshmallows blister and brown and the chocolate melts.

m Spoon store-bought lemon curd onto gingersnap cookies. Phenomenal with Earl Grey tea.

Apricot-almond coffeecake

2 8-ounce packages refrigerated crescent rolls

1 12-ounce can apricot filling

1 2.25-ounce ( cup) package pre-sliced almonds

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Open packages of crescent roll dough and divide each log of dough in half at the middle perforated seam.

Unroll the 4 pieces of dough on a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet so that they are side by side and extend the width of the sheet and 1 inch up the sides.

Firmly press seams and diagonal perforations within each rectangle together to seal them.

Spread apricot filling evenly over dough with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle almonds over filling. Bake coffeecake on center rack of preheated 375-degree oven until edges are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely, 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and stir in enough milk to make a smooth glaze.

With a spoon, drizzle glaze over top of cooled coffeecake.

Serve cake directly from pan.

Makes 12 servings.


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